Marine Protection Systems - Leading the Way for Change
Sacrificial Anodes may not be the most glamorous components to be found in a chandlery, but anodes nonetheless perform one of the most important jobs on the water, by protecting expensive metal components from corrosion. Traditionally, sacrificial anodes have been made from zinc. Zinc anodes have been used for the last 100 years as the primary means of protecting metal components like drive shafts and metallic hulls from galvanic corrosion.
In the face of growing environmental sensitivity among groups worldwide, non-toxic alternatives to zinc are being sought.
At the forefront of this change, a massive educational drive is being conducted by Marine Protection Systems, the manufacturer of innovative anode technology - Maddox Anode. MPS aim to deliver efficient and environmentally considered corrosion protection by providing alternatives to alleviate ecological concerns associated with zinc anodes.
While zinc is an effective anode material, and small amounts of zinc are essential for human health, in higher concentrations the element has been found to be highly toxic to plants, invertebrates and fish. Worst still, zinc anodes typically require some amount of cadmium, which has been associated with serious illnesses including kidney disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
Such findings have inevitably raised concerns about the continued use of zinc anodes in marine environments. In the United States, bans on the use of zinc anodes have been implemented in California and under proposal in other states and European countries after studies identified high levels of the element in local environments located near large marinas.
It is important when choosing the right cathodic protection for a vessel, that the correct education is provided to ensure proper consideration as to what metal is being protected and the cathodic protection needs for the application are being met. Marine Protection Systems are leading the way in providing this education in “choice” of protection. Not only can the wrong anode result in poor performance, an anode that causes over protection (too much protection) will result in detrimental effects to the performance of protective coatings like antifoul and non-biocide foul release coatings – an effect called “Cathodic Disbondment”.
Once metal is exposed, the anodes will inevitably have to work harder to provide protection, increasing the cathodic currents, thereby disrupting the adhesion even further. Increasing anode fallout, increasing coating loss, and so on and so forth. By ensuring the effects of overprotection are minimised, there is the ability to utilise the excellent benefits from antifoul coatings, maintain great performance, yet minimise the environmental impact.
Palm Beach Motor Yachts (Grand Banks) is one example where an industry-leading manufacturer was able to ensure the best levels of corrosion protection is being achieved with Maddox anodes (since 2014), whilst ensuring the best outcome in terms of performance of coatings and minimising growth for their customers. The addition of a positive environmental effect is just a bonus.
Boaters have a strong interest in protecting clean water and marine ecosystems – our job is to simply show them how they can do that by switching to more effective products.